Folsom, whose previous works include The Mad Ones and Mr. Untouchable, focuses here on actor Dennis Hopper’s monumental successes and failures, like Easy Rider and The Last Movie, respectively, while nicely capturing the essence of other aspects of the actor’s life—his Kansas childhood, rehab stints, and pitch-man career—in short, lively vignettes. Though it is nearly impossible to put down on paper the life of a man who was so motivated by visions real and imagined, Folsom does an admirable job capturing Hopper’s manic and spirited personality in prose, as when he describes the actor’s adopted home of Taos, N.Mex.: “ hidden plateau, damp and lush and glowing iridescent in the hallucinatory light when filtered through the thin alpine air illuminated everything in Technicolor.” Still, even with Folsom’s exhaustive research and incisive perception, the book doesn’t fully explain the mystery of Dennis Hopper, but that in itself is a fitting homage to this once great yet enigmatic entertainer (Mar.)
Guns, motorcycles, mug shots, drugs, paintings, madness. Even by Hollywood standards, Dennis Hopper led an extraordinary life…Tom Folsom structures Hopper, his book about the man, in a time-bending, sensational style reminiscent of Hopper’s most out-there projects.
Tom Folsom tears through the life of Dennis Hopper in Hopper: A Journey into the American Dream.
Mr. Folsom plays the part of [Hopper’s] spiritual medium, taking us through each chapter of the Kansas-born, James Dean-worshipping, psychedelic psychotic’s life, describing exactly what was going through the mind of the semi-tragic American almost-hero at each juncture.
Fortunately for him, Dennis Hopper has gotten the biographer he deserves. Which is to say, Folsom’s gonzo prose pulsates with Hopper’s manic energy and fits his madness like a glove.
Tom Folsom’s Hopper is an electric and rollicking, tour de force profile of Hollywood’s great outlaw chameleon. All the wild-eyed stories and high-octane pathos in these pages make me miss the edgy, ‘grand artiste’ Hopper anew. A knockout book!
Essential reading for anyone interested in Dennis Hopper, the explosive sixties, Hollywood, American cinema, and the art of the twentieth century. But watch out—this visceral book puts you right in it, and some of it is jaw-dropping.
What a terrific book about Dennis Hopper—he would have loved it and hated it. Beautifully written, stunningly accurate, Hopper captures all the wonderful and terrifying contradictions of the sweet, sad, funny, angry, and loving man that was Dennis.
Dennis Hopper was unlike any human I’ve ever met: consumed with passion for his subject, aesthetically brave, yet possessing a gentle heart. Though I would have said it couldn’t be done, Tom Folsom has captured the real Dennis.
Folsom has neatly framed actor Dennis Hopper.
Folsom carries the reader on a caffeine-and-other-substance-fueled ride.
Dennis did a lot for motorcycling with his movie Easy Rider. Folsom has written a book that shows Dennis’s life like it was: crazy but brilliant.
Starting out as a James Dean-wannabe, Dennis Hopper ultimately garnered respect as an actor, as well as a painter, art collector, and photographer. His heavy immersion in drugs and drug culture, however, almost ruined his career. Folsom (The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld) tells the story of a rebellious Kansas farm boy who made his way to New York and eventually Hollywood, where he alienated nearly everyone. His involvement in the seminal 1969 hit Easy Rider gave him the ability to make his own film two years later, the financially and critically disastrous The Last Movie. Folsom discusses the ups and downs of Hopper's career in this obscenity-laced biography, which details numerous private conversations but gives no attribution of sources. The style is distinctly idiosyncratic (he often refers to his subject as "our hero") and almost seems to be attempting to re-create Dennis Hopper's own vernacular. VERDICT Hopper deserves serious biographical attention and this book is not it. But it should appeal to a more open-minded readership and those who are particularly into cinema of the 1960s and 1970s.— Roy Liebman, formerly with California State Univ., Los Angeles
A hip biography of American actor, photographer and pop-art collector Dennis Hopper (1936–2010). Folsom (The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld, 2009, etc.) considers Hopper as an energetic acolyte of James Dean who cultivated a renegade persona through drug abuse, sexual wildness, violence and confrontations with directors as well as other studio figures over embracing method acting when it was regarded with skepticism. Spanning Hopper's beginnings in theater to a part in Rebel Without a Cause, his ambitious project in Peru, The Last Movie and a career resurgence later in life, the author emphasizes how the actor's talent was sometimes overshadowed by his reputation--to the extent that the actor once agreed in a 60 Minutes interview that his work could be regarded as a failure with moments of brilliance. Folsom's tendency toward extended metaphors occasionally hinders the narrative--e.g., of Hollywood legends, he writes, "Up in the firmament, outside his [Peter Fonda's] window, Brando, Dean, and Clift twinkled in the cosmos. Marlon's comet shone brightest. It hooked around the sun, didn't get sucked in, and then seemed to orbit around it. A celestial navigator, Fonda watched it come, exit, it was really incredible. The tail of the comet sent showers and meteors fizzing down through the atmosphere." There are also several other instances of purple prose, but Folsom provides frank anecdotes regarding Hopper's fellow actors, such as Natalie Wood. Occasionally overwritten, but a rich portrayal of an unconventional, free-wheeling thinker whose checkered experiences shock and beguile on the page.
"Dennis did a lot for motorcycling with his movie Easy Rider. Folsom has written a book that shows Dennis’s life like it was: crazy but brilliant."